My university has a program that offers classes at a nearby prison, and
this program is about to get a bunch of new laptops. As many of you know,
prisons are pretty restrictive and inflexible regarding technology. These
laptops cannot be connected to the internet, so it is very challenging to
provide students with opportunities to search across large collections of
content for research (e.g. Wikipedia, any article database). (A few years
ago, we briefly considered using a small portable server developed by
Libraries Without Borders that hosted offline versions of Wikipedia,
Project Gutenberg, etc., but this solution did not make it past the prison
Our reference librarian would like to set these new laptops up so that the
students can have the simulated experience of searching for information,
even if it is offline.
1. His first idea is to simply put a lot of articles, with full-text
PDFs, into Zotero on each computer and just use the native search
functionality of Zotero.
2. His second idea is to cobble together a handful of disparate
resources, such as XML files from Medline/PubMed, a version of offline
Wikpedia, and one or two other collections, then somehow engineer a search
interface that will simultaneously search across these 2-3 separate
resources (that are stored locally on the laptop) and display results.
Is there any relatively straightforward way to accomplish #2? (Notice I
didn't use the adjective *easy.*) What technologies would be involved?
University of Baltimore